n a v e l g a z i n g a n d s t o c k t a k e

so, it happened.

i am a 40 year old man.

i m p o s s i b l e .

impossible not in a literal way of course, and not in the way of suggesting that it’s so highly improbable. it’s not like i’ve lived the life of an unremitting daredevil, nor have i submerged myself in excess, whether of the flesh or of the chemical. in fact, comparably, i have been really quite chaste (though more due to disinterest than disapproval of any opposing stance). no, it feels impossible to be 40 because of the great myth of the aging process: that one day you’ll feel like an adult.

i have spent the vast majority of my adult life without gainful employment, and the minority engaged in what would be a stretch to refer to as a ‘proper job’. this choice of mine to remain ‘apart’ in this way has certainly cost me, certainly financially, and has probably left me somewhat socially retarded. now this could, i suppose, be seen as evidence of a single-minded iconoclast and fearless social adventurer, or indeed the reader might be forgiven for thinking that this is the role i am casting myself in by telling you this; but it isn’t. the truth is that many people pursue the things i have pursued and still hold down regular jobjobs. i think my refusal might have more to do with my inability to do things by halves, or in fact sensibly. but there you are.

despite what might be discernedi suppose, as successes, success on my terms and with regard to things i would wish it for, has thus far, to a greater extent, eluded me.

i am proud of several things i have achieved/created, none of which has earned me any money 
a t   a l l , not that pride and payment have anything to do with one another.

things of which i am proud (acknowledging that pride is supposedly a ‘sin‘, whatever that means, and enjoying this list all the more because of this):

# i have written three novels, all of which remain unpublished (unpublishable?); and yet i’m half way through my fourth. it seems to have become what i do.
# many years ago i wrote and performed a one-man show, which, while it gained good reviews ate money like a fat man in a cake shop.
# despite my  u t t e r  lack of  a n y  musical skill, i have made ‘musics’ of which i am proud.
# though (thankfully) childless, i have had a vasectomy.
# as a (not socially) mature student i completed a degree in creative writing, receiving a first, finishing in the top 50 students of the university.
# i co-created rective, a club which never failed to make a loss, and yet we kept going for an amazingly blinkered 5 years, enjoying (almost) every second.
# i co-created the double r club, which bizarrely has been an unprecedented success.

in my years on the planet i have broken an arm and a foot, the former in youthful misadventure and the latter in ill-conceived anger. since i was born i have not been hospitalised. i have my tonsils. i have my appendix. i’ve had kidney stones (arguably the worst pain i’ve ever experienced) and i have a “tight lateral-band”, which gives me a dicky knee.

i have lovely parents, a fact which shows its value more and more the older i get.

i have a girlfriend who is so much better than it could be reasonably argued i deserve. though i did a very good job of nearly fucking it up early on, she makes me laugh and amazes me on a regular basis. she’s stronger than me,  
f a r better organised and more focussed. at times i am, against her, not unlike a cardboard cutout.

while unwilling to call myself a ‘lucky’ person i think that, on balance, mostly good things have happened to me during my time on the planet. which is nice.

despite this i have spent a great deal of time angry.

the best lesson i’ve learned, though sometimes it appears i’ve retained this knowledge less than others, is to pick my battles. “mellowing with age” seems like a kind way of saying acquiescence; of being cowed. which i don’t think i have been, i believe i have merely refocused my ire. but then perhaps this is merely self-delusion.

i am often selfish. i am a self-adsorbed individual though, i think, rather than a self-centered one. empathy can be a struggle but it’s there, i just think i’ve done a good job of keeping it in its place.

“are you good or bad you ask yourself…” goes the the the song, but i’m not sure i ever have. not sure its even an interesting or meaningful question. i once sat around drinking with colleagues who both admitted they had done very bad things to certain people that they were ashamed of, and not only wouldn’t they reveal the name of the person they did it to, they wouldn’t even detail what they’d done. they asked me if i too had such a story to contribute but the fact is, i said, i don’t judge myself that way. why bother? as with empathy, guilt is there but if you can’t keep it in its place where does that leave you?

whether that’s any way for a 40-year-old man to think i have no idea, but there you are. or, in fact, here i am.


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